A FINE AND VERY RARE ZITAN INLAID FOUR-LOBED BOX AND COVER
20.000 € - 30.000 €
Description:China, 17th/ 18th ct.
35,8 x 22,5 x 9,8 cm
Shoulao and the eight Daoist immortals between clouds and rocks with lingzhi were worked in fine inlays in various materials such as mother-of-pearl, soapstone, lapis lazuli, coloured bone and malachite on the lid and sides. The inside and the bottom are undecorated.
European private collection, in the family since 1990, acquired in Budapest on 5.6.1990 (invoice preserved) - a counterpart see "Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings in the Collection of the Palace Museum", Beijing, 2010, p. 157
This exquisite box and cover belongs to a group of inlaid objects typically applied on precious zitan or huanghuali wood. This inlay technique is often referred to as Baibao qian or 'One Hundred Precious Objects Inlay'. The term is derived from the multiple and diverse materials used in creating the decoration, including jade, agate, malachite, soapstone, carnelian, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell and lacquer. The use of such a wide variety of materials to compose a pictorial scene, results in a stunning effect of vibrant colours and different textures, which as demonstrated by the present lot, accomplishes great complexity and depth. Works of art made employing this technique required the sourcing of expensive semi-precious materials as well as the prized zitan wood; combined with the masterful craftsmanship that would have been required, such objects would have been very costly to produce.
This technique was used to a great effect during the late Ming dynasty, as demonstrated in a number of inlaid zitan and huanghuali wood boxes from the Qing Court collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, pls.219-225, with some works in this style associated with the renowned master carver Zhou Zhu.
Losses to inlays, the edges partly restored